Hilton free breakfast rules: Who gets it where and why elite benefits aren’t as clear cut as you think

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Qualifying for free breakfast as an elite traveler is by far the easiest at Hilton hotels. While several of the current Hilton hotel brands offer free breakfast to all guests, the majority only offer free breakfast to Gold and Diamond Hilton status holders. Don’t let the fancy-sounding status discourage you, though. You can easily earn automatic Gold or Diamond Hilton status just by having the right credit cards, including:

There are no credit cards with a similar level of automatic elite status that can get you a free breakfast at other brands like Marriott or Hyatt.

While Hilton Honors changed their free breakfast rules at all hotels for Gold and Diamond members, there’s still some confusion (and inconsistency) around what to expect at certain brands. In fact, breakfast offerings can vary wildly between properties within a brand or even in the same area — and you might not get a proper meal at all, but rather a food and beverage credit you can use on anything.

Let’s take a close look at what you can expect for breakfast as a Hilton traveler, especially when you have Gold or Diamond Hilton status.

Hilton Gold and Diamond elite status members get free breakfast at all Hilton hotels, including this healthy, fresh continental plate at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea in Hawaii. (Photo by Jasmin Baron)

Making sense of Hilton’s free breakfast rules

Hilton hotels that offer free breakfast to all guests

Of the current Hilton hotel brands, these give complimentary breakfast to all guests regardless of elite status:

  • Canopy — This small brand advertises “artisanal breakfast” made with fresh local ingredients
  • Embassy Suites — A family-friendly favorite, Embassy Suites offers made-to-order hot dishes like omelets (plus free snacks and appetizers in the evenings as well)
  • Hampton Inn — Hilton’s largest brand delivers hot and cold buffet items like waffles and oatmeal, plus “to-go” breakfast bags Monday-Friday in the US and Canada
  • Home2 Suites — This extended-stay brand adds breakfast sandwiches and egg bowls to the standard free hotel breakfast buffet fare
  • Homewood Suites — Popular with business travelers and families alike, this all-suite brand offers hot breakfast with plenty of choices for all, and weekday evening socials
  • Tru — Geared to millennial travelers, Tru has funky decor and “fun” breakfast offerings like a toppings bar and waffle boats ripe for filling with goodies
It might be packaged differently, but the buffet at Tru hotels doesn’t look much different from other free hotel breakfasts. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Hilton hotels that offer free breakfast to Gold and Diamond elite members

The Hilton Honors website now proudly advertises the fact that Gold and Diamond Hilton status members receive free breakfast at all Hilton hotels (until 2018, certain brands were excluded). This includes the hotels mentioned above (where everyone gets free breakfast regardless of status) and the following brands (note that Hilton Grand Vacations is an exception):

Hilton’s elite status chart clearly shows Gold and Diamond members receive complimentary breakfast at all hotels.

The Hilton Honors benefits terms are similarly clear:

Complimentary Breakfast at all hotels

Daily complimentary breakfast is available either as a Member Benefit (at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton and Tapestry Collection by Hilton properties) or as a brand amenity, excluding Hilton Grand Vacations.

When selected as a MyWay Benefit by a Gold or Diamond Member, daily complimentary continental breakfast is provided for the Member and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of Member’s stay. Breakfast is only served in the hotel’s designated restaurant or Executive Lounge. At the discretion of the hotel or where breakfast is a brand amenity, the hotel may provide full breakfast or in-room service.

Let’s dig into the last paragraph a bit. Hilton My Way Benefits allow members to choose their earning style and, for Gold and Diamond members, select on-property benefits based on preference, like free breakfast, bonus points or upgrades (depending on the brand). Gold members typically have to choose between breakfast and another amenity, while Diamonds usually get breakfast and other amenities. Here’s a summary of what you get at brands that don’t offer breakfast to all guests:

Hilton Hotel BrandBenefit for Hilton Gold Elite Status MembersBenefit for Hilton Diamond Elite Status Members
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts– Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

– 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a daily complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel’s designated restaurant for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay
– Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

– 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay

– A daily continental breakfast in the hotel’s designated restaurant for you and up to one guest registered to the same room each day of your stay
Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Curio, DoubleTree, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Tapestry Collection– Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

– 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a daily complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel’s designated restaurant for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay
– Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

– 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay

– A complimentary continental breakfast for you and up to one guest registered to the same room each day of your stay

– Executive Floor Lounge Access (available at select properties)
Hilton Garden Inn– 750 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a complimentary Hot Cooked-to-Order Breakfast for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay– 750 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a complimentary Hot Cooked-to-Order Breakfast for you and up to one guest registered to the same room each day of your stay

Except … this isn’t quite how it works.

Depending on the property, you might receive much more than a plain-Jane continental breakfast and instead get complimentary access to the full (often pricey) hot breakfast buffet. This was the case for my family when we stayed at the Conrad Tokyo and enjoyed one of the fanciest hotel breakfasts we’d ever seen. Had I paid cash, it would have cost $140 for the four of us (all of whom got free buffet breakfast with an additional a la carte option), but it was free with my Gold status at the time.

This eggs benedict at the Conrad Tokyo is still the best (and prettiest) I’ve ever had — they take their breakfast very seriously there. (Photo by Jasmin Baron)

Unfortunately, the opposite can be true as well. For example, the Hilton Hawaiian Village doesn’t offer a proper breakfast at all for Gold and Diamond members. Instead, you’ll receive a $10 per person (up to two guests per room) per night dining credit which you can use at select restaurants and bars in the resort. That’s not enough to even cover the price of continental breakfast. When I last visited, my boyfriend and I pooled our credits over our stay and splurged on a dinner at the beachside restaurant instead of having breakfast at the hotel.

So how can you find out exactly what you’ll receive with your status at a particular Hilton location? Your best bet is to call or email the hotel directly and ask — don’t call the general Hilton reservation line, because the reps may not be up to date on recent changes. For example, the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea changed their breakfast policy earlier this year from a $15 per person daily credit to a continental plate daily in the main restaurant.

Beyond that, if you really want a good feel for exactly what is (and isn’t) included in your hotel breakfast, there’s this comprehensive FlyerTalk master thread where actual guests report the breakfast they received as a Gold/Diamond member, type of breakfast (continental, hot, etc.), whether it was in the restaurant or lounge, quality, upcharge to full buffet if applicable and more.

Bottom line

Some Hilton hotel brands offer free breakfast to all guests, but at others, you’ll need Gold or Diamond Hilton status to snag a free morning meal. Fortunately, you don’t have to set foot in a Hilton hotel to earn this level of status — it comes automatically with credit cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Gold status) annual fee $95 (see rates and fees) or Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (Diamond status) annual fee $450 (see rates and fees).

Hilton advertises that Gold and Diamond members receive free breakfast at all Hilton hotels, but it’s not quite that simple. Depending on your level of status and at certain brands, you may be given the option to choose between breakfast and another amenity, like bonus points.

Some hotels go well above the minimum continental breakfast described in the Hilton terms and conditions and roll out the red carpet to elite guests at their upscale hot buffet. Other hotels fall short and provide less than what’s promised, for example, a marginal food and beverage credit in lieu of a proper breakfast.

The best way to find out what you’ll get at a specific property is to call the actual hotel directly. Barring that, there’s also a FlyerTalk thread listing Gold and Diamond member breakfast experiences at hundreds of Hilton hotels around the world.

We’d love to hear your experiences (good and bad) with Hilton free breakfast, especially as a Gold or Diamond. Share away in the comments!

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets email newsletter.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass, please click here 
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire card from Amex, please click here

Meghan Hunter is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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